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to her griefe and against her will, that she finds her selfe obliged to go from her native home: but above all things I admire her modesty, when I see her (as ashamed to be courted so neere her mother) murmure and thrust back the bold hand that touches her. The traveller that comes hither to refresh himselfe, hanging his head over the water, wonders 'tis broad day in his horison when he sees the sunne in the antipodes, and never hangs over the bank but hee's affraied to fall into the firmament."*
The following picture is in a very fine style of painting.
"I saw the starres shine in the firmament with a bleuish fire: the moon was in her full, but much paler then ordinary, she was thrice eclipst and thrice went below her circle; the winds were paralytick, the fountains were mute, the birds had forgot their chatterings, the fishes thought themselves encompast in glasse, all creatures had no more motion then was necessary for them to expresse their feare by. The horror of an astonishing silence that govern'd in all places, made nature seeme to be in suspense of some terrible accident; my fear began to be as great as that which the face of the horizon appeared troubled withall, when, by moon-light I saw coming out of a vast grot, a tall and venerable old man, cloathed in white, with a swarthy face, his eye-browes thick and long, a wall and frightfull eye, his beard throwne over his shoulder; on his head he had a hat of verveine, and about him a girdle of mayfearne woven in tresses; upon his gowne neere his heart was fastned a bat halfe dead, and about his neck he wore a collar set with seven severall precious stones; each of which wore the character of that planet that govern'd them."
We now close our extracts from this pleasant, fanciful, and "witty extravagant."—Of the "person of honor" who favoured the world with this translation, we must say, that he has rendered his original with a real feeling of its spirit. Cyrano Bergerac wrote also two" Voyages Imaginaires," which have been much celebrated, and which furnished Swift with some hints in his Gulliver's Travels; besides a comedy and a tragedy—of the former, some notice may probably be given in a future number.
* The author had so good an opinion of this description, that he has transferred it to another work, which was published after his death.
Art. IX. Taulerus, de decern cacitatibus, et quatuordecem divini amores radicibus, in his Theologia, edited by Suriust'u 1615.
Rusbrokii Opera, Colonia, 1552, 1609, 1692.
Sti. Joannis a Cruce, Nox Obscura, et Viva Amoris Flamma,
Abrahami Hiltoni, Scala Perfections, or The Ladder of Perfection, 1494:—(See Dibdin's Typographical Antiquities, vol. ii. p. "infrequently reprinted.)
Sancta Sophia, compiled by Father Sylvanus Cressy, from the works of' Father Baker, an English Benedictine Monk, 1629.
Doctor Henry More's Psyco-Zoia, or the Life of the Soul; London, 1640.
*The attempts of Heathen and Christian contemplatives to Taise their minds to an intimate communication with the deity, form a curious subject of inquiry. They have often engaged the notice of the theologian, but they equally deserve the attention of the historian and the philosopher. The following pages may, perhaps, be found to contain,
I. Some account of the nature of mysticism: .
II. Of the mysticism of the Pagans:
III. Of the mysticism of the Jews:
IV. Of its supposed prevalence in the early ages of Christianity:
V. And in the middle ages: noticing, in this place, the excesses of some mystics of those times:
VI. Some notion will then be presented to the reader of the modern mystical writers among the Roman Catholics; and the errors of Molinos and the modification of them by Madame Guyon:
VII. An outline will then be given of the doctrine of mysticism, as it is found in the writings of their most approved mystic authors:
VIII. Mention will then be made of some mystics of eminence of the church of England; of the mysticism of the Quakers; and of the mysticism of the Methodists.
* A part of this article has before appeared in print, in the collected works of Mr. Charles Butler. This, however, we have no doubt our readers will do more than excuse, when they perceive the improved method in which the old matter is now arranged, and the additions with which it has been combined—in such a manner, indeed, as to make the present review of the chief works of the mystical writers approach to a complete treatise of this interesting subject. Ed. I.—The Nature Of Mysticism.
Mysticism is defined to be an union of the soul with God; so intimate, that its essence is, in a manner, transformed into the essence of God; and, in consequence of it, the soul beholds him, not intuitively, as he is seen by the blessed in heaven, but in a divine light; and believes in him, hopes in him, and loves him, not by particular or discursive acts, but in silent affection and adoration.
It evidently is the disposition of the human mind, when it receives a forcible impression of any object which engrosses its attention, for any considerable length of time, to become, in a manner, identified with it. Hence, it has been thought, that incessant contemplation of the divine perfections leads the soul to an intimate communion with the deity; that, in the view of his adorable essence, she becomes lost in silent wonder and love; that her other functions, and even her affections of devotion, die within her; that she no longer fears and no longer hopes; but that a mysterious inanition takes place, and she becomes, in many respects, one with the divine object of her adoration.
II.—Mysticism Of The Pagans.
To this sublime state of speculation several sects of Pagan philosophers aspired. In the history of Indian philosophy, the Brachmans and Samanseans are described to have lived in retirement; to have avoided any intercourse with mankind; to have abstained from wine and animal food; to have practised great bodily austerities; and to have endeavoured, by assiduous prayer, meditation, and abstraction from terrene objects, to raise themselves to an incessant communication with the deity.
The Egyptian priests lived in the same state of contemplative seclusion.
From them, Pythagoras and Plato borrowed much of their schemes of philosophy: the great object of them was to shew, that the soul, by disentangling herself from all animal passions and sensible objects, could rise to the world of intelligence, obtain a view of the first great cause, and prepare herself to return to her original habitation.
"Plato's disciples of the Eclectic sect (says Dr. Enfield, in his History of Philosophy,*) aspired to a sort of deification of the human mind. They adopted, from oriental philosophy, the system of emanation, which supposed an indefinite series of spiritual natures, derived from the same supreme source; whence, considering the human
* Book 3. ch. 2. s. 4.
mind as a link in this chain of intelligence, they conceived, that by passing through its various stages of purification, it might, at length, ascend to the first fountain of intelligence, and enjoy a mysterious union with the divine nature. They even imagined, that the soul of man, properly prepared by previous discipline, might rise to a capacity of holding immediate intercourse with good demons, and even enjoy, in ecstasy, an intuitive vision of God."
The mysticism of the modern, or rather the second school of Platonic mystics, appears to have begun with Ammonius Sacca, a learned man, who flourished in the second century. He was born of Christian parents, and, probably, always lived in the outward practice of the Christian religion. He attempted to bring about a coalition of all philosophical and all religious sects; all, he said, were grounded on the true philosophy and true religion of the east, taught to the Egyptians by Hermes, preserved in its original purity by Plato, his best interpreter; that it was afterwards adulterated, but was restored by the precepts of Jesus. Ammonius enjoined to his disciples a rule of life of extraordinary sanctity and austerity; he allowed the generality of them to conform, outwardly, to the duties and customs of the country; but enjoined a sublimer rule to the wise. They were to extenuate, by hunger, thirst, and mortification, the animal passions of man, and raise their souls, by holy contemplation, to the presence of the divine being, and to commune with him. This was to be effected by continued abstraction, aided by certain mysterious practices, called the Theurgic art. By these, the mind was sublimated; and obtained a view of the demons or spirits with whom the universe was peopled, and capacitated to perform wonderful things by their assistance. But communion with the supreme being was the ultimate object of the Ammonian theology. In this life, it might be attained in a high degree, where the disciple had sufficiently purged and refined his soul from the terrene particles which incumbered it. Death would complete her separation from the body, and she would then ascend, active and unincumbered, to the universal parent, the divine truth, and live in his essence for ever.
III.—Mysticism Of The Jews.
The introduction of the Chaldaic philosophy, among the Jews, led many of them to the same fanciful speculations. These were particularly found among the Essenes and Therapeuts, two classes of solitary contemplatives, loosely spread over Syria, Egypt, and the adjoining countries. Sublime contemplation was the aim of each. Of the former, we know little: of the latter, we have an interesting account, written by Philo the Jew. We learn, from him, that they were divided into the practical and theoretical: that both were addicted to sublime contemplations: that the former allowed some of their time to the active duties of life; but that the latter was wholly absorbed in divine philosophy: they endeavoured so to habituate themselves, that God should never be absent from their minds; and that his beauty and excellence should always dwell in their thoughts. Thus, they described themselves as habitually living in the recollection of his presence, and uttering, even in sleep, divine things.
IV.—Mysticism or The Early Christians.
In the New Testament, the advocates of mysticism find it in the words of Christ, (John, c. xiv. v. 23) in which he says, " if any one love me, he will keep my commandments; and my father will love him, and we will come to him and will make our abode with him:" and, in a passage in the epistle of St. Paul, (2 Cor. c. 3. v. 18) where the apostle mentions, that, "beholding God, without a veil, we are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the spirit of our Lord." And, also, in a passage of St. John, (epistle 1. c. 4. v. 18) in which he says, that "God is charity; and that he who abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him."
From the writings of the apostolic fathers, particularly St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, several expressions are cited by mystical writers, which appear to shew that mystical theology, in the same sense in which it is spoken of by more modern writers, was known to them.
In the second century, it appears more clearly and systematically expressed in the writings of St. Clement, Bishop of Alexandria. A work with the title, On mystical Theology, which is ascribed, by some very respectable writers, to St. Dionysius, the Areopagite, and was certainly written before the fifth century, treats, fully and distinctly, of mystical theology, and unequivocally professes to shew, that by disengaging the affections from all sensible things, the soul can be raised, as it is termed by the writer, "to the contemplation of the divine obscurity, the incomprehensible Godhead." Some passages, translated from other authors, and cited as authorities, are said to be founded in this writer.
That mystical devotion was common among the Fathers of the Desert is, say the advocates of mysticism, clear from the writings of Cassian.
From this time, few traces of it, they generally admit, are discoverable among the writers of the Latin church, till the year 767, when Pope Paul sent a copy of the treatise of St. Dionysius, the Areopagite, to Lewis the Debonnaire; and that mo